South Sudan’s first female mayor murdered, bishops plead for peace

The Tablet

Ellen Teague, Fredrick Nzwili

Armed herder near Juba. Photo: CNS/Reuters
Armed herder near Juba. Photo: CNS/Reuters

South Sudan armed pastoralism Yei Diocese in South Sudan has condemned the brutal murder of the first female mayor of Yei City. Fr Zachariah Angutuwa Sebit, Vicar General of Yei Diocese, said it was an act against the people. Cecilia Oba Tito, who was killed on 9 November near Juba, participated in drafting the Constitution of South Sudan and in 2013 was elected mayor of Yei, a post she stepped down from in September. She was an active Christian, especially championing women’s access to education.

On Saturday Sudanese Catholic bishops urged citizens to intensify peace efforts in the country, where an-11 month conflict that is believed to have a heavy death tool.

Archbishop Paolino Lukudu Loro of Juba, speaking at the end of the bishops’ annual plenary meeting in the South Sudanese capital, reminded the South Sudanese people that they were not created for war, but peace. Despite the secession of South Sudan in 2011, the bishops still operate as one conference.

Archbishop Loro said the bishops were accompanying the problem of the country with prayer, and urged the people to open their hearts for peace to prevail.

Since December 2013, a bitter war pitting the President Salva Kiir’s Government and rebels allied to former vice president Riek Machar has been raging here. It is a subject of ongoing peace talks in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

Thousands are in need of humanitarian aid, but a conflict think tank, International Crisis Group, estimates that between 50,000 and 100,000 people have been killed in the new conflict. On Saturday, human rights called the failure to count the victims of the violence a scandal.

South Sudan became independent in 2011 after a long and bloody war with Sudan and the bishops insist there is no need for further killings. In September, the Church declared the war an evil, and called for its end.